Leaves are falling and guests are on the way. Is your house ready? We'll help you prepare your home for the holiday and cooler weather with easy-to-do tips.
Make weeknight meals easier with a few fresh one-pot recipes this fall. The scent of soups, stews and casseroles will fill your home with delicious smells, dinner will be done fast and you'll have fewer dishes to wash.
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"A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience." — Sydney Smith
To compost in the cold, use a large metal can turned upside down and poke holes in the top. Choose an area with full sun and dig a hole at least six inches deep. Place the can inside and pack with hay to insulate.
More: Composting the Easy Way
Replace batteries in smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors twice a year: when you set clocks back for fall and again in the spring. Most detectors last about 10 years but be sure to test them on a monthly basis.
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Late fall is the perfect time to add a new dimension to a largely dormant garden. Stone figurines, water flutes or bird baths perk up any winter landscape and look even more charming come spring.
More: Protecting Potted Plants for Winter
Mix and match metallic looks with natural elements like fall branches or fresh fruit, says HGTV designer Erinn Valencich. "Metallics add a great modern touch to a fall tablescape. Deep copper and bright bronze are lovely addition to a traditional table."
More: Fall Fantasy Flower Arrangement
Fireplaces are the ultimate form of cozy fall comfort. No fireplace at your place? Get the same glow by assembling a large collection of candles or adding small votive candles to your window sills.
More: Favorite Fireplaces from HGTV Fans
Declutter your countertops by removing appliances you don't regularly use. Replace ordinary spice containers with glass jars with metal lids. Install an under-the-cabinet magnet strip and store the jars there, freeing up counter space.
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In addition to your usual bathroom cleaning routine, give it a clutter-busting boost. Clear off countertops and shelves, scrub all surfaces and replace only those things you use on a daily basis. Everything else can be stored out of site or thrown out.
More: How to Organize a Bathroom
Give your foyer style and personality. Add a mirror and several small baskets to collect keys, mail, or shoes that are often dropped when your family walks in the door.
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"An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day." — Irv Kupcinet
For an easy centerpiece or mantel decoration fill a large glass vase with unshelled nuts. Walnuts, almonds and cashews, which are available in most grocery stores this time of year, can be mixed and matched or used alone.
More: Holiday Nut Recipes
If you're short on space in your bathroom, use this this space-saving trick from Genevieve Gorder: Bring a coat rack in to hang towels and bathrobes. It's the perfect size to fit into the narrow confines of your bathroom.
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Instead of one large centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table, which has to be moved when the turkey arrives anyway, sprinkle the center of your table with votive candles and gourds. Complete the look with a mini-pumpkin on top of each plate.
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Drain water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses and have any in-ground sprinklers serviced before the first hard freeze. Wrap freeze-prone pipes with heat tape and avoid serious damage to a frozen water system by teaching everyone at home how to turn off the water at the source.
More: Winter Tips for Your Pipes
Try a new habit this fall: Give yourself just 15 minutes each evening to put things away. Clothes, books, toys and anything else that went astray during the day should be put in its place. Not only will your evening be more relaxing, mornings will be smoother too.
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Just in time for holiday travel, not to mention rough weather, take the car in for an oil change, new wipers and have the tires checked too. Any questionable noises, knocks or shakes should be looked into now.
"Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way." — Native American saying
Make an over-the-top fall statement by filling your largest vase with maple-leaf branches or pussy willows. Keep the stems as long as your vase, ceiling and space will allow.
Check and replace your furnace (and air-conditioning) filters every month. Depending on your needs, choose fiberglass which lasts about a month or HEPA filters which can last up to six months if vacuumed monthly.
More: Furnace Maintenance 101
From shampoo to leashes and toys, clean or repair anything in need; throw away damaged items and medicines that have expired. Put nylon leashes, collars and pet bedding in the washing machine and use the dishwasher to give plastic toys a thorough cleansing.
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George Washington wasn't just the first president elected; he also started today's holiday by calling for a “national day of thanksgiving” in 1789. And it was Abraham Lincoln who officially declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Keep houseplants healthy by misting them with water at least once a day (and up to three times). Most home heating systems create very dry air so tropical houseplants will benefit greatly from the extra humidity.
More: Perk Up Your Cold-Weather Garden
Between the dirt, snow, salt and mud, winter is rough on carpet and rugs so vacuum regularly, at least every week. Stains won't become ground into the fibers, which means your carpet and rugs will look good and last longer too.
Genevieve Gorder shares some quick tips for making the most lived-in space in the home — the family room — more organized and comfortable
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When the weatherman calls for an overnight freeze, set plywood boards against the exterior basement vents of your house. They'll help prevent frozen pipes. Just remove them once the cold weather has gone to ensure proper ventilation.
Water will be your plants' only source of nutrients during these low-light months. Stop feeding plants now and resume food or fertilizing duties again in the spring.
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If you're an early bird Christmas reveler, now is the time to start. Unroll your lights, inspect for missing bulbs and get them up this weekend. Even better, use LED lights this year to save a bundle on your electricity bill.
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Don't entice bugs or other pests looking for a warm shelter with easy meals. All pasta, beans and grains should be organized into canisters with lids. Put pet food into air-tight containers and reseal opened bread and chip bags with a tight plastic clip.